x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Jennifer Lawrence not to teenage tastes

While casting directors remain pleased with their choice of actress to play the role of Katniss Evergreen in the forthcoming book-to-film adaptation of The Hunger Games, the teenage jury of fans is still out.

The actress Jennifer Lawrence may have just landed a role of a lifetime, but will she be accepted by her teenage audience?
The actress Jennifer Lawrence may have just landed a role of a lifetime, but will she be accepted by her teenage audience?

Casting directors must have thought they were on to a sure-fire winner after they gave recent Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence, a not unattractive lady, the role of Katniss Evergreen in the forthcoming book-to-film adaptation of The Hunger Games. But no, apparently they forgot that the bestselling novel - which see kids fight to the death in a rather bleak post-apocalyptic future Earth - is aimed at the teenage market and, as they should have realised from the likes of Harry Potter, Twilight, et al, teenagers can be quite particular about who plays their favourite characters.

According to her description in The Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss is a 16-year-old, small in stature and with long, black hair, grey eyes and olive skin. For these characteristics, Lawrence fits the role like a glove, so long as you can overlook the fact that she's almost 1.73 metres tall, with blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes.

As soon as the news was posted on Facebook, fans rushed to make their feelings known, leaving more than 300 comments in under a day, most involving the word "no" and several elongated to include several "o"s in a clear indication of disgust.

Hair and eye colour aside, at 20 years old, poor Lawrence's advanced age was also considered a major stumbling block. "URGH NO SHE IS TOO OLD URGH" suggested one outspoken commentator, with various others following a similar critical path. Many indicated that other actresses, such as Lyndsy Fonseca, Ellen Page, Emma Roberts and "that girl from True Girl" (that'll be Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld) were far preferable alternatives.

But despite the internet wailings, it seems director Gary Ross (he of Pleasantville and, er, Seabiscuit fame) is sticking to his first choice, calling it "the easiest casting decision I made in my life". According to Ross, The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins was totally behind Lawrence playing the lead role. "Suzanne saw every single audition," he told Entertainment Weekly. "And not only did Suzanne not have an issue with Jen's age, she felt you need someone of a certain maturity and power to be Katniss.

"This is a girl who needs to incite a revolution. We can't have an insubstantial person play her, and we can't have someone who's too young to play this."

Administrators of The Hunger Games' various "fansites" have also looked through the outpouring of misery to find more optimistic considerations for Lawrence's inclusion. "She's extremely talented. In Winter's Bone you can see that she can handle anything that's thrown at her," Theresa Morgan of Down With the Capitol, a reference to the books' morally corrupt central city, told MTV News.

"Some people don't like it that she's a little bit older," said Megan Scott of The Hob. "Personally, I think it's great. I think she needs to bring maturity to the role."

And if Ross needed proof that those pesky, ever-whingeing kids don't always get it right, just look at Twilight. Many fans were initially dismissive of Robert Pattinson when he was cast as Edward - 709 of them signing an online petition against the decision and various Facebook pages set up with snappy titles such as "Do you think Robert Pattinson shouldn't play Edward Cullen?"

But now it seems impossible to imagine anyone else looking longingly at poor Bella Swan in a field of wildflowers for several hours at a time.

Adolescent attention spans are short, however, and soon concerns will be on other matters, such as who will play The Hunger Games' many other characters, how three books can be squeezed into just one film without losing the vital elements, and why Mrs Dobson is always handing out boring geography homework on a Tuesday.